If you've ever imagined winning a boatload of bucks in the lottery, Windfall is the show for you. The new NBC drama (Thursdays at 10 pm/ET) is quickly steaming up the airwaves with lots of love triangles and cash problems. Sarah Wynter, who got her big break as Jack Bauer's love interest on 24, feels like she won the lottery by landing a role in the cast. TVGuide.com caught up with the Aussie-born actress to find out if money really does change everything.
TVGuide.com: In case people missed last week's premiere, how would you describe Windfall?
Sarah Wynter: It is about a group of 20 friends, a mixture of married couples and single people, who get together every week and have a potluck dinner at someone's house. Sometimes there are stragglers, or people will bring people from out of town, but it is an informal get-together where someone takes a coffee can filled with one-dollar bills that everyone puts in, then goes to the store and buys lottery tickets. They win almost $400 million and, of course, all their lives change. It is more or less a cautionary tale of "Be careful what you wish for" and "What would you do if all your dreams came true?" It is not a sitcom it is dark, to disturbing levels.
TVGuide.com: Your character, Beth, is married to a guy who seems to be still involved with his ex.
Wynter: Well, they certainly are exploring that. It is quite a complex little triangle or square, if you include both married couples because they were college sweethearts, so it is almost like, "Who is the one who was cheated on?" Even though I am the one Cameron ended up marrying, he still kind of holds a torch for Nina. It gets very gray as to who is cheating on whom, but it is definitely wrong no matter which way you look at it. There are endless possibilities for great story lines. I joke that it is a cross between Dynasty and thirtysomething. It is not really like either show, but we have those over-the-top moments like the pizza- delivery girl leaving the trailer park in a helicopter but it is those moments that give you goosebumps and make you think, "That is what I would do. Good people like that should win a lot of money." But then you read in the paper every day about lottery winners who lose it all and get death threats.... Our show explores paternity suits and divorce and greed. It is a bit like someone who is really drunk. Someone with a lot of money can show their true colors.
TVGuide.com: Sounds juicy!
Wynter: It is incredibly juicy, one of those guilty pleasures. It is the kind of show I would relish watching, especially with so many reruns on [during the summer].
TVGuide.com: I know it's an ensemble, but your little love quadrangle really seems to be at the forefront.
Wynter: I think the main focus is [that], but it will go off on tangents. It is a rich tapestry with many different threads woven in, and this one central, connecting thing this huge amount of money. My character had a lot of things happen to her and because of her, which I like. She is certainly not a victim. Just because she doesn't scream and shout and become hysterical doesn't make her not powerful. She has a quiet power. She's not all flashy and "If you are cheating on me, I'm going to divorce you, sucker." She looks at the bigger picture, which makes her smart.
TVGuide.com: She's a florist as well.
Wynter: Yeah, but that certainly doesn't define my character. I don't think I had another scene in the florist shop [since the premiere].
TVGuide.com: Well that sort of answers my next question. A lot of people dream of quitting their jobs when they win the lottery. Does Beth quit?
Wynter: It isn't really addressed, but it is assumed that she doesn't work at the florist any more. She doesn't sit around on her yacht, either. What I like about Beth is that she still drives her Saab that is probably 15 years old. She isn't one of the ones who goes out and buys a Mercedes or a McMansion. But she certainly treats herself. In the second episode [airing tonight], she and Nina do something really fun together. They go on this fantastic trip and spend a lot of money.
TVGuide.com: Would you be a little frivolous if you won all this money?
Wynter: Oh, yeah. I'd go to an art gallery and buy art I can only look at in books, and buy clothes. Of course I would love to do noble things with it, and I would, but the first 24 hours would be just a whirlwind of, "Look at that, I love that, I'll buy that."
TVGuide.com: Can you tell me about some of your other upcoming projects?
Wynter: I did a movie called Shooting Livien, which just came out on DVD. We were invited to the South by Southwest Film Festival [for that], but I had just started Windfall and I couldn't go. Ally Sheedy is in it, and Jason Behr (The Grudge) and Dominic Monaghan (Lost).... Three Dollars came out in Australia I'm not sure if it has distribution here yet and it is a beautiful movie with Frances O'Connor and David Wenham. It was my first Australian movie, so I was really excited to go back and do that... and finally do an Australian accent. I never get to do my own accent, which is a hybrid of American and Australian now. In fact they had to ask me, "Can you sound a little bit more Australian here?" That had me laughing because everybody in America always says that I sound very Australian, and they thought I sounded very American. Ah, the irony.
TVGuide.com: We got our first big glimpse of you on 24. Do you keep up with the show?
Wynter: I try to watch the DVDs so I can see it commercial-free, plus then I can do a marathon. It is such a great show, and it was such a fantastic experience for me to be on it. I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I feel like I am part of something that is quite groundbreaking. Because they repeat it all the time, and because people do watch the DVDs, I get recognized from that show daily. People know my full character name "Are you Kate Warner from 24?" They know the names, they ask about specific scenes.... It almost has a Trekkie-like following. They are very serious fans.
TVGuide.com: Hopefully some of those smart fans will watch Windfall as well.
Wynter: Yes. It is equally a smart show it is just not all in one day. There is a lot happening, but no bombs, no terrorism.
TVGuide.com: Let's hope.
Wynter: Yes. Let's hope. You never know.
TVGuide.com: How many episodes of Windfall are there?
Wynter: There are 13 for now. Hopefully a lot of people will tune in and they'll pick us up for the rest of the season, which is nine more. Then we'll be on for five years and get terribly successful and people will become obsessed with it and there will be Windfall T-shirts. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: The show started out with 20 people, so there are a lot of characters to delve into.
Wynter: Yeah, and some are very shady characters. Some people we don't know very well, other people come into the mix, a lot of people are threatened.... We as actors feel that we've won the lottery in a way by getting this show. It is an interesting parallel. One of the actresses got a Mercedes because she's now making money, and one of the characters on the show gets a Mercedes because she's won all this money. Obviously we haven't won $20 million each, but we are pretty well paid!